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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, September 12, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Today's racing:

Two races today. The Vuelta a España will have its 20th stage. This stage will decide who the winner this year will be. With four first-category climbs, surely Fabio Aru will do his best to gain those 6+ seconds from race leader Tom Dumoulin that he needs to win. And just as surely, Dumoulin will go incredibly deep to keep his lead. Should be a great stage.

Here's the stage profile:

Vuelta stage 20 profile

Vuelta stage 20 profile. Tough stuff!

Also, the Tour of Britain will hold its seventh stage, Fakenham to Ipswich.

Cannondale mountain bikes recalled

Bicycle Retailer published this important notice:

Cycling Sports Group is recalling certain Cannondale mountain bikes spec’d with OPI stem and steering tube assemblies.

The recall involves model year 2011 through 2015 Cannondale Flash, FSi, F-4, F-5, F-29, Lexi, RZ, Scalpel and Trigger bikes with the OPI stem/steering tube assemblies. OPI is printed diagonally across the stem/steering tube in black letters. Some OPI stems were also sold aftermarket.

Recalled Cannondale stem

Here is the OPI stem under recall

During the course of regular testing, CSG found that the threaded connection between the base of the OPI stem and the top of the steering tube causes excessive stress on the fork structure, resulting in a reduced fatigue life. This could lead to fork failure, CSG said.

According to the CPSC recall notice, no injuries have been reported. The recall affects about 23,000 bikes in the U.S. and 917 in Canada.

CSG is supplying dealers with a special wedge kit (KR052) or pack of five kits (KR053) that locks the threaded connection between the OPI stem and the steering tube to restore appropriate fatigue life. All OPI-equipped forks must be fitted with the wedge kit. And additional kits will be available at no charge, the company said.

New clamp bolts with a black finish are included and required. Also included and required are torque spec decals. Forks that have been fitted with the wedge kit will be distinguishable by these two visible features.

CSG said that the kit takes less than 30 minutes to install, including necessary cleaning and inspection.  

“Due to the simplistic nature of this remedy, we will not reimburse (dealers),” said a company spokesman. “We have worked very hard to make this remedy low in complexity and have proactively shipped wedge kits to dealers. Our authorized retailers are extremely familiar with this assembly. In most cases, this will be a while-you-wait fix.”

Here is the CPSC posting.

Vuelta a España team reports

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's news:

Team captain Rafal Majka retains his 4th place overall before the penultimate day of racing at La Vuelta a España. Stage 19 saw Tinkoff-Saxo’s Pavel Brutt featuring in the long breakaway that made it to the finish line. More than 16 minutes behind, the main favorites fired up their engines in the finale with Pawel Poljanski putting in a stalwart effort for his captain.

Friday’s stage to Ávila offered plenty of action in the final part of the race with the key GC contenders deploying their remaining forces in an attempt to boost their position. Losing a few seconds to race leader Dumoulin and Aru on the final kilometer, Rafal Majka finished the stage with the rest of his closest competitors.

“It wasn’t easy on the final part today. We had some crosswind on the descent from the final category two climb towards the finish line and Valverde attacked several times to gain seconds. It meant that the group was dragged out into a long line. We practically finished in the same order as we approached the final uphill section. However, Pawel Poljanski did a very good effort at the front and we caught Valverde on the small climb to Ávila. For sure, it will be even harder tomorrow and we must give it one last push before Madrid”, says Rafal Majka, while teammate Pawel Poljanski adds:

“This morning I wasn’t feeling good and as we passed the team bus on the parcours I really wanted to stop and get inside. But that is absolutely no option and despite the fatigue I want to fight with my last remaining energy for my team and for Rafal. That’s why I’m here and as the stage entered its final part I felt more comfortable on the bike. The effort on the final descent was high and I went to the front to close the gap to Valverde. In the end, Rafal didn’t lose time to Rodriguez, everybody is getting tired and tomorrow will be the last chance to make a difference”, comments Pawel Poljanski.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbs in Vuelta stage 2

Stage 19 of 185.8km from Medina del Campo to Ávila featured a gradual cat. 2 climb followed by a fast descent towards the finish line. According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Tristan Hoffman, the GC favorites are all starting to feel the accumulated fatigue.

“We’ve done 19 long, warm and mountainous stages and all the favorites are on their limit. It’s inevitable and that’s what happens in a Grand Tour and now we just have to see who comes out on top on tomorrow’s penultimate stage, where we have proper mountains coming up again. Pawel did a very good job today and he will be important for Rafal. Nothing is decided yet, we of course have to find more than a minute on Rodriguez while keeping an eye on Valverde and Quintana behind us in the GC. Rafal was where he had to be today, the time differences were small and we reckon that tomorrow is where it’s possible to make a difference”, comments Tristan Hoffman and adds about Pavel Brutt’s effort in the breakaway:

“Pavel obviously had power in the legs today. He attacked many times but it didn’t turn out to his advantage. However, he tried his best and showed motivation”.

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's stage 19 Vuelta news:

The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders didn’t succeed in their aim to be part of the big leading group of the 19th stage of the Vuelta a España. 24 riders escaped from the peloton. One of them was stage winner Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale).

“We wanted to be part of the breakaway, today, but we didn’t make it”, sports director Erik Dekker said after the stage. “That’s a shame. We tried to get in front in all of the stages in which there were chances for the breakers. Today was the first time we failed. Fatigue plays a role, of course, but our men started today’s race with the willing to get in that breakaway.”

Alexis Gougeard

Alexis Gougeard winning Vuelta stage 19

One of them was Bert-Jan Lindeman. “I tried to escape several times in the beginning of the stage, but we didn’t get enough space”, he explained. “Shortly afterwards, that big group of riders broke away and I wasn’t amongst them. You have to be a little lucky as well, but it was really frustrated. I’m feeling that I took a big step in my development, this Vuelta. Even this week I was doing quite well uphill and I want to prove that another time, tomorrow.”

“It’s an extraordinary tough stage, tomorrow”, Dekker continued. “Bennett is our main gun. He saved his energy today and yesterday, because of the 20th stage. Besides that, we want to reach Madrid with some of our rookies. That’s part of our race plan, tomorrow, as well.”

Lampre-Merida GP de Québec report:

The first of the two Canadian appointments of the World Tour, the Gp Québec, took place in the European evening (+5 hours on the GMT).

At the end of the 16 laps of the 12.6 km circuit under the Chateau Frontenac, the most characteristic building of the old Québec City, Diego Ulissi gave Lampre-Merida the best result in the 6th edition of the Canadian race, getting 5th place (the previous best performance was the 6th place of Ulissi in 2012).

The plot of the race was fairly predictable: six riders (which later became five: De Vos, Roth, Quemeneur, Benedetti and Lapthorne) escaped from the bunch in the early kilometers, but they did not succeed in defending the maximum advantage of 9'10" in the central part of the race, when the blue-fuchsia-green jersey also appeared at the front of the peloton.

Rui Costa, wearing the Portuguese national champion jersey designed by Champion System, was the first rider from Lampre-Merida to enter into action in the final lap, when the main breakaway had been neutralized and other attack attempts were done, following a move of Van Avermaet and Kristoff.

The bunch, with no more than 60 members, reacted and neutralized the attempt. Meanwhile, Ulissi began to recover position, reaching the first part of the group.
A few meters after having passed the last kilometer triangle, Uran attacked from the front of the peloton and he succeeded in defending his 10 meter lead. The group chase was not successful, despite a very long sprint in which Ulissi battled against very fast riders such as Matthews (2nd), Kristoff (3rd) and Slagter (4th).

Rigoberto Uran wins 2015 GP Quebec

Rigoberto Uran wins the 2015 GP Quebec

"The plan for the race we had agreed with the sport director Pedrazzini was good and the race confirmed that the choice to pedal in the middle of the bunch for most of the laps was the best one - Diego Ulissi explained - The course, in fact, was favourable for the chasers when the pace of the bunch would have increased.
In the final lap, my legs were still good. Thanks also to the support of my team mates I recovered my position and I was in the front of the peloton for the sprint, in which I battled for a place on the podium against very fast riders.

Uran deserved the victory, he attacked in the best moment and he had the strength to reach the finish line".

Orica-GreenEdge signs Luca Mezgec

2014 Giro d’Italia stage winner Luka Mezgec will add valuable punch to the sprint group at ORICA-GreenEDGE from 2016 having signed for the next two seasons. Mezgec joins the Australian outfit, after three years with Giant-Alpecin, with a wealth of experience leading out some of the best sprinters in the world including Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, as well as some pretty handy personal results.

“I've been pro for a few seasons now and I'm ready to take the next step in my career,” the Slovenian said. “Doing it with ORICA-GreenEDGE is really the perfect scenario for me and I'm very thankful for getting this opportunity. I see myself as someone who can help out the fast guys on the team in the sprints as a lead-out guy and in more selective races where there are a few hills too. I'm really looking forward to giving everything for the team's ambitions.

Luca Mezgec

Luca Mezgec at last year's Tour of Poland

“I've been watching from the outside how the team functions and it's clear to see that riders and staff really work well together on and off the bike. The possibility to become part of that is huge for me.”

Amongst Mezgec’s personal WorldTour palmares is a final stage victory at the Giro d’Italia last year, two stage wins at the Tour of Beijing and three at the Volta Ciclsta a Catalunya.

Excited to have the sprinter onboard, ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Matt White is looking forward to utilising the 27-year-old’s offerings. “We are really pleased we have managed to get Luka on board,” White said. “He brings us two major things… Number one, he is a winner in his own right. To win a stage in a bunch sprint in the Giro d’Italia and multiple WorldTour events proves that he is at a very high level despite still having a lot of developing to go.

“The second one is that he has had experience working with the best sprinters in the world, in Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, and that is invaluable alongside the likes of Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews.”

As the team continues to develop it’s sprint group with Ewan taking a stage win on Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana and Matthews recently completing his first Tour de France, Mezgec is a welcome addition to the youthful lineup.

“Luka really adds some explosive power to our sprint group,” White continued. “The best lead out riders are actually world-class sprinters themselves, so it’s not only that experience he brings, but he also has the ability to pack a really good sprint himself and that’s what you need. He is a big boy, more than six foot tall, but he also climbs really well which brings him into the equation for Michael and others, as well as Caleb.”

Luka Mezgec:


-       2014 Giro d’Italia stage winner (stage 21)
-       Three-time stage winner at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
-       Two-time stage winner at Tour of Beijing
-       Lead out rider for Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary